I had a sixteen day stretch rolling into this month where I was either teaching or traveling to teach 15 of those days. That’s nothing new for October, in fact, it is one of the busiest months in a normal year. This year, however, that stretch was tougher. AND, I let it get to me.
I love to teach. I have since that first day at the Middle School on Van Dyke and Kercheval on the East side of Detroit. There is something about being a catalyst for someone learning more, striving for more, and maybe being more, that has always lit my fire.
And RARELY, and I mean RARELY (in all caps) am I not totally INTO it. My world could be falling apart, but once I pick up that remote mouse and begin, that all goes away. I love it. Then came Monday.
Friday was my birthday. I don’t mind getting older and I certainly believe that I am nowhere near my chronological age (which is 69 in case you wanted to know). It was a great day. Saturday we had a “family” birthday party (I put family in quotes because neither of my sons were present, so it was mostly the other side of the family – an observation, not a judgment), and while those have digressed into everyone having their noses stuck in their phones and not really communicating in any useful way, it was fine.
Sunday I poked around the house, got some things done and then was OFF to Gillette, Wyoming to teach my Creating Listing Abundance class, a GREAT class that I LOVE to teach. It was a WAY better than usual drive. I stopped, as I often do, in Ft. Collins to take my favorite Grandson, Mason, out to lunch and catch up. I was great. The rest of the drive I listened to Matthew McConaughey on podcasts promoting his new book, GreenLights. Everything: still awesome. (by the way, bought the book Tuesday, read it Tuesday night and finished last night. An amazing book).
I didn’t sleep well Sunday night. My room at the beautiful Country Inn and Suites was fabulous and the weather outside (chilly and windy) should have made for better sleep, BUT it didn’t. I wrote this off to the reality that I rarely sleep well on my first night at a hotel.
Now, it’s Monday. The Northeast Realtor Alliance sponsored the class. My point people, Kristy Barrett and Katie Gray had it all fixed up. It was set up so that if you wanted to take it in person, you could. It was at the once gorgeous Ramada Inn convention center. If you wanted to take it via ZOOM, you could do that instead. It was the perfect setup to be awesome. Then it wasn’t.
I had worked through the kinks ahead of time. I worked through the options available to me to have the right things coming out of my projector for the live folks while at the same time nailing the screen share to my ZOOMers. At home it worked to perfection. At the Ramada, it did not. We were supposed to begin at 8:30. We finally clicked the first slide at 9. The issue: Al Gore’s invention, the internet. At my house, strong signal. At the Ramada, not so much.
We tried to connecting to every internet connection available. Some worked for awhile, some not at all. We’d connect, then we wouldn’t. At any given time, I had no idea if anyone in ZOOMland could see or hear me. At some point in the morning, I saw Katie holding up her phone as if she was streaming the class. Maybe she was. Maybe not. I didn’t care by then, I just kept teaching. After a break, we borrowed a well connected phone and used it as our hotspot. I think it worked. Somehow at lunch, the two bars on my phone became four (divine intervention). So we/I used my phone for the entire afternoon, interacted with the ZOOMers, and all was good. The afternoon was awesome. What happened to the morning?
In short, it wasn’t awesome. In fact, I would classify my first hour in front of the group as some of the WORST teaching I have ever delivered. I wasn’t focused, I wasn’t present, I was nowhere near being on my game. I stumbled over words, I mixed up content, I sucked. By the way, this is MY class. I wrote it. You’d have never known it though. I sucked.
At this point, I should interject something: I am my worst critic. I hold myself to a WAAAAY higher standard than my attendees and/or colleagues, and for the most part, I’m not sure they (my attendees) thought I sucked. I know that, as much as I tried to mask it, that they knew I was frustrated. Sucked? Probably not.
But in my world, my perception, I sucked.
It rarely happens, but I allowed the circumstances around me to have an affect on what I was doing and how I was feeling. I got into the “what if” and “if only” and lost the moment. I lost my love of the most important part, the PROCESS. Luckily, I didn’t let it stay there. Luckily (or maybe skillfully), I regrouped, got my focus, savored the moment, and regained the day. But I’m still not happy that those people didn’t get my best, even if for only a few hours.
Dr. Andrew Huberman, noted neuroscientist, discusses ways in which we can gain neuroplasticity as we age. He discusses how fatigue and a lack of focus can be the enemy of your/our best performances and then learning process (thus also the teaching process). It can happen to anyone. When the enemy wants to get the secrets out of prisoners, their most effective technique is sleep deprivation; fatigue.
In my mind: excuses.
The moral, regroup. Take the time to counter balance the work with something else. In retrospect (20/20 hindsight, right?), my runs have been more sluggish, I’ve lost track of my meditation practice, I haven’t stopped to read a book (until this week) in a few months. In short, I brought this on myself. I should have seen it coming. I didn’t (and I TEACH people about balance and seeing it coming). Burning the candle at both ends brings brighter light but it also brings a shorter lifespan for the candle.
I should have known better.
While those words read like a critique, they are not. I don’t blame me, for goodness sake I don’t even blame the Ramada (although I still wonder how the internet could be so shabby in the “conference” room). I’m looking at it, today, as a lesson in self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-focus. I hope I’ve learned the lesson. I HATE SUCKING.
It gets to you, if you let it.